Company hosted public forum Monday to share plans
Glencore expects to spend up to $400 million to make modifications to its Falconbridge smelter so it can meet new provincial standards for its nickel emissions.
The company hosted a public forum Tuesday to bring the community up to speed on its plans to meet the new, and more stringent, air quality standards.
The province's new air quality standards, under Ontario Regulation 419/05, will take effect on July 1, 2016.
The new standard will switch from a daily averaging period — where contaminants cannot exceed 2 ug/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air) — to a yearly averaging period with a contamination limit of 0.04 ug/m3.
One microgram represents one millionth of a gram.
Cathy Grant, an air standards and risk management specialist with the Ministry of the Environment, said she and her colleagues determined the new standard would be more representative of industrial emissions with a yearly average. Companies are still limited to a daily upper-risk threshold of 2 ug/m3.
“When set the standards, we only consider the science,” Grant said. “We don't consider whether or not people can meet the number.”
To meet the new standard, Glencore, like many other companies, plans to apply for a site-specific standard that could extend beyond 2016. The temporary standard would allow the company to ease into the stricter limit.
As of January 2014, the Ministry of the Environment has issued eight site-specific approvals. Four others are under review.
Chad Pearson, an environmental manager with Glencore's Sudbury Operations, said the company is *in full compliance with the current standard for nickel emissions, but will need time to make the necessary upgrades for the stricter rules.
“Some of this technology just isn't out yet,” he said. “So we're actually having to develop some of this in house.”
In 2010 the company made changes to reduce its sulphur dioxide emissions in Sudbury, and the next year it worked to meet stricter standards for cadmium particulates.
Pearson said the changes for cadmium in particular, also reduced nickel emissions.
Glencore plans to install secondary hooding at its Falconbridge smelter to catch nickel particulates that may have gotten around the primary hooding.
The company also plans to install more baghouses – large dust collectors – at the facility.
Pearson said Glencore also has plans to improve the transportation of raw materials to the smelter, to ensure less dust escapes to the surrounding air.
Jim Brierley, a member of the Falconbridge Citizens Committee, and a retired electrical engineer with Falconbridge, attended the public forum and said he was happy with what he saw.
“I like the way they've presented it,” he said.
Brierley said Glencore has been a good corporate citizen and has made a concerted effort to lessen its impact on the environment.
*Clarification: an earlier version of this story said the company was 'exceeding' current emission standards, which means they are doing better than the law required. However, the use of the word 'exceed' may have given the impression that they were exceeding pollution limits, which is not the case.